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Borderline Exegesis

by Leif E. Vaage

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exegesis & hermeneutics
list price: $42.95
also available: Hardcover
category: Religion
published: 2016

In Borderline Exegesis, Leif Vaage presents an alternative approach to biblical interpretation, or exegesis—an approach that bends the boundaries of the traditional North American methodology to analyze the meaning of biblical texts for a wider audience. To accomplish this, Vaage engages in a practice he calls “borderline exegesis.” Adapting anthropological notions of borderlands, borderline exegesis writes biblical scholarship peripherally, unearthing the Bible’s textual and discursive borderlands and allowing biblical texts to be at play with the utopian imagination.

The book’s main chapters comprise four case studies that engage in a “divergent reading” of the book of Job, the Gospel of Matthew, the Epistle of James, and the book of Revelation. Informed by the author’s time in war-torn Peru, these chapters take on themes that the poor and disenfranchised have historically claimed—themes of social justice, the legitimacy (or lack thereof) of prevailing social practices, and, most importantly, utopian demand for another possible world. The chapters are held together by the presentation of a greater theoretical framework that provides reflection on the exegetical practices within and confronts biblical scholars with important questions about the aims of the work they do. Taken as a whole, Borderline Exegesis seeks to disclose what the professional practice of textual interpretation might become if we refuse the conventional distances between academic practice and lived experience.


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Contributor notes

Leif E. Vaage is Associate Professor of the New Testament at Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto.


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Editorial Reviews

“Leif Vaage produces a series of daring intellectual border crossings that are shaped by both academic biblical scholarship and his long-standing experience with Latin American Christianity. While never taking his eye off the text, he offers rich biblical readings designed to prod us to think about the larger question of how to know a life worth living. This work will appeal to students of Job, the Matthean Jesus, James, and Revelation. It will also appeal to those interested in the problem of reading the Bible, and living, ethically and politically in these troubled times.”

—Shawn Kelley, Daemen College

“With Borderline Exegesis, Leif Vaage takes us back to where interpretation started, to the encounter between texts and life. Borderline Exegesis is a significant innovation in biblical exegesis in which the distinction between academic reading of texts and the experience of human life disappears, where the questions of the meaning of texts and the meaning of life are one and the same. Based on encounters from his time in Peru, Vaage moves exegesis from the comfort zone of Western exegetes into the experience of human life in extremis, where reading biblical texts by necessity becomes a work of utopian imagination.”

—Halvor Moxnes, University of Oslo

“With his proposal of a ‘borderline exegesis,’ Leif Vaage challenges traditional biblical scholarship, opening the possibility of reading the Bible with a utopian imagination. Such a reading is a conversation with the biblical texts that takes place in the margins of well-being, where the ‘good life’ cannot be taken for granted and life itself is often threatened. Stimulated by his long-term contact with borderline experiences of life in the outskirts of Lima, Peru, Vaage’s reading of various biblical texts shows how this kind of exegesis can help imagine a better world.”

—Santiago Guijarro, Pontifical University of Salamanca, president of the Spanish Biblical Association

“Leif Vaage’s ‘borderline exegesis’ works on the edges and in the crevices of biblical texts and biblical scholarship to engage ‘life questions’ that are particularly urgent for those who are living on the edge or on the margins. This edgy and yet balanced book does not assume the Christian triumphalism that has plagued many ‘liberational’ readings of the Bible. I find it accessible and admirable.”

—Tat-siong Benny Liew, College of the Holy Cross

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About the Author

Leif E. Vaage

Leif E. Vaage is Associate Professor of the New Testament at Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto.
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